Antivirus Basics on Your MacBook - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

Consider your antivirus protection (both under Lion and Windows XP/Vista/7, if you’re running Boot Camp on your MacBook). Viruses are typically transmitted through applications: You run a program, and the virus is activated. (Although not the traditional definition of a virus, both scripts and macros can be used to take control of your system and cause trouble, as well.)

Therefore, you need to closely monitor The Big Three:

  • Web downloads: Consider every file that you receive from the Internet as a possible viral threat.

  • Removable media: Viruses can be stored on everything from CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs to USB flash drives.

  • E-mail file attachments: A “Trojan Horse” or “worm” application sent to you as an e-mail attachment is an easy doorway to your system.

Horrors! Mac OS X has no built-in antivirus support. However, a good antivirus program will take care of any application that’s carrying a virus. Some even handle destructive macros within documents.

Make sure that the antivirus program you choose offers real-time scanning, which operates when you download or open a file.

Periodic scanning of your entire system is important, too, but only a real-time scanning application such as VirusBarrier X6 can immediately ensure that the documents or the application you just received in your e-mail Inbox is actually free from viruses. (Oh, and don’t forget that many of the Software Updates released by Apple for Lion will plug security holes in our favorite operating system.)

Virus technology continues to evolve over time, just as more beneficial application development does. For example, viruses have been developed that are actually contained in both JPEG image files and electronic books (or ebooks)! With a good antivirus application that offers regular updates, you’ll continue to keep your system safe from viral attack.

ClamXav 2 (free for personal use) and Intego’s VirusBarrier X6 for Mac antivirus protection include automatic updates delivered while you’re online to make sure that you’re covered against the latest viruses.